RWC Series: "Facing Challenges from Around the Globe: Covid-19"

By Lihteh Wu, MD . Associate Professor at the University of Costa Rica and Director of the Vitreo-Retinal Department of the Instituto de Cirugía Ocular (Costa Rica ).

Other affiliations include past President of the Pan-American Retina and Vitreous Society and two terms as President of the Costa Rican Ophthalmological Association. PAAO (Vice President), AAO (Board of Trustees and Retina World Congress (Board of Directors). Member of the Club Jules Gonin, Macula Society, Retina Society, and American Society of Retina Specialists.

A Message from Lihteh Wu ~

Costa Rica diagnosed its first case of COVID19, in an American tourist from New York City, on March 6. As of today, March 26, there have been 231 cases of which 6 are currently hospitalized, 4 in the ICU and 2 deaths. All the sources of contagion so far have been identified, we hope. People are being asked to maintain social distancing, but like in many other parts of the world, some citizens have flocked to the beach, bars, and national parks. Since people did not listen, the authorities instituted a strict curfew from 10 pm until 5 am. Churches, bars, schools, cinemas, universities, non-essential business, beaches, and national parks are now closed. Elective surgeries and routine medical consultation was discouraged as well. The country closed its borders one week ago. Tourists were encouraged to go home. The last flight out of Costa Rica was yesterday.

My older son is a sophomore at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. As practically all universities in the US have closed on campus activities, Cornell shut down and asked all their students to return home. Fortunately, finding room on a flight was no problem as most planes were flying empty at the time. Being in Ithaca was a challenge as he had to take 3 different planes to get home. I wanted to minimize his risk so he flew from Ithaca to Philadelphia and then to Charlotte, NC and then to Costa Rica. Alternatively he could have gone down to NYC and taken a direct flight from there but I didn’t feel comfortable with that option. He arrived 10 days ago and we immediately isolated him in his room for 2 weeks. We leave a tray with his food at his doorstep. So far so good. He is currently asymptomatic.

I am currently only seeing emergencies and urgent cases (i.e. injections for AMD cases, post-ops, sudden losses of vision). I have provided my mobile number to my patients. When I do go in to see patients, I wear goggles, face mask, and gloves.

Please stay safe, unfortunately this is no ordinary virus. Our Italian and Spanish colleagues can attest to this.
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